Caudal type homeobox 2 expression induced by leukocytapheresis might be associated with mucosal healing in ulcerative colitis

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Background and Aim:

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the colon with an intractable, recurrent course. Although the goal of UC therapy has recently been to target mucosal healing, the molecular mechanism of mucosal healing remains unknown. In this study, we aimed to elucidate the molecular dynamics related to the proliferation and differentiation of intestinal epithelial cells during cytapheresis therapy in a short duration.


Endoscopy was performed in 26 patients with UC in multicentre hospitals, and biopsy specimens were collected from the rectum before and within two weeks after leukocytapheresis (LCAP). The expression of representative proteins in intestinal epithelial cells and pathological findings was compared before and after LCAP.


The expression of caudal type homeobox 2 (CDX2) and a hes family bHLH transcription factor 1(HES1) markedly increased after LCAP. Patients with endoscopic improvement after LCAP showed the expression of CDX2 before LCAP. Moreover, the number of goblet cells significantly increased after LCAP. Patients without endoscopic improvement after LCAP did not show the expression of CDX2 before LCAP. However, the expression of CDX2 markedly increased after LCAP.


This study suggests that cytapheresis might induce CDX2 expression without affecting the cell proliferation, thus resulting in mucosal healing with goblet cell restoration.

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